Heathens

Apollo and Dion, a dysfunctional rag-tag pair of demon hunters have been sent to investigate the city of Havenbrook and its inhabitants.

The mission is simple: to find the cultists responsible for a recent string of murders and to bring them to justice. Even if it takes killing dozens of demons on the way there.

But things are never that simple when you deal with the dark arts. Cultists, demon pacts, sacrificial murders all stand in the demon hunters' way as they search for the truth. A truth that will force them to question their own identities, a truth about the absolute evil lurking beyond heaven and earth. The question is, if they find the truth, will they be strong enough to handle it?

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40. Chapter 39

Apollo
July 24th, 2017
10:24 PM


Apollo was irritated. It showed in the way he scratched his neck and how he slicked his hair strands back and tugged on his suit with that firm and bitter touch. Pulling, rapid pulling and scratching. He had felt this way on in the early dusk, all throughout the gray day. The sky had not done him favors. It seemed like everything ran thin, sunshine, patience, emotion. Days that ended too fast, nights that outlasted his dreamless sleep. He wanted the antihistamine for his ruthless insomnia, the soft pillow, the clearing emptying chamber for his heavy and full heart.

It was Sophie.

He didn’t say it or even think it. The opposite. He repressed the memory, the scene of red. Forgot it, pretended to forget it. And now it was hurting, not in the way of a dagger strike that cuts and stings and bleeds, but in that harrowing numbing wave, starting as a drop of mercury, now a shower that poisoned the ocean of his consciousness. His mind was deteriorating, the animals of his devices dying on the shoreline with their long purple tongues falling out of tired mouths and their gills sucking aimlessly at harsh arid airs. 

His head hurt as he looked down. An old cable antenna was to his rear like a pitchfork to the sky or perhaps a lone hand in prayer. He could hear the person below him watching, laughing, a heckle he thought, aimed at him. Apollo bent the antenna. The man screamed at his static-filled television and Apollo jumped from the edge of the roof. The birds scattered to drop shit elsewhere, but not here, not anywhere near the lone figure in the night. His slick mask, cracked and glued with gold. He slid across the cornices, kicked off of statues that split and broke. The gargoyles looked away, faces down in shame. 

He was following a car. The license plate that read ‘AS5MAN’, the juggling pair of dice below the car spoiler that somehow managed to stay on even through the wild turns that screeched and skidded. Like testicles, old, saggy, desperate. Apollo followed the car and the skittish hands within that he saw through the rose-tinted windows. It looked like four hands driving the wheel. He looked just as timid as Apollo, but unlike Apollo, he was guilty. And to Apollo, this man (if you could call any monster a man) might as well have been Shiva. He sure left the trail, smoke, and smog that made all the sad and small homeless cough and turn. But he was guilty of something more. 

He was a drug dealer. A particular one. One Apollo had confirmed after many an interrogation and many a threat. And he was coming around the bent, trying to catch the freeway, going through the mountain range and wrapping around the black serpentine track. Drifting, slithering. Apollo followed him there.

The pines glared at Apollo like a platoon of archers. He was above the trees. His hands injected into the earth, his feet dragging his anchor like the swimming of sharks, his body a kind of rapid moving fin that shredded through earth and shot it out to the street. He was fortunate there was no one else driving. He looked ahead of himself and predicted where the driver would go, he saw the sharp turn up ahead and how it was flagged by a rebellious pine tree. He ran on the wall, ran ahead of the car with that inhuman speed and strength. He waited then, it wasn’t long. It was only a few minutes. He could feel the air vibrate with that masculine car engine, the assault of a two-thousand fifteen Dodge Hellcat. And Apollo knew, all the engineering and strength of that vehicle would be reduced to nothing. For it was just metal. Metal and fuel and sparks. Science and man, the devil’s instruments as he was taught. And they were right, for tonight he felt that same Luciferian anger. 

His eyes flashed red as the car came around. He challenged the headlights. His shadow moved. Darted, he sped faster and faster and the car could not turn. The driver screamed, but his closed windows left his voice powerless. The car turned right, Apollo tackled right. 

It flew. Five feet into the air.  On its side. The tires flew out, the sparks shot out like a derailed train. Apollo laid on the floor. His shoulder was feeling it now, hot and bleeding and dislocated. A tire rolled passed him and spun circles, undecided before it finally sat next to him. He stood. With his only good arm, he found his bicep and rolled his arm around to find where the socket was where it was supposed to be attached. He could feel his bone click, rub, and with one strong push, snapped it back in. Pain and relief. A bulge of bone receded. It felt like the harshest bruise he could imagine, the feeling of muscle and nerves twisted and shredded and forced to work again. But it healed. Like most of everything in his body. But no kind of healing, regeneration, miracle, could fix that wound in his heart. The solemn denial. The bad dream.

The car was on its side. The hood touched the ground and the tree and the guardrail, it was bent in. All of it was. Apollo heard the man groan, he saw the door prop open in the air and he followed the sight and the markings of wheels before he was led back to his feet. He picked up the lonely tired next to him. When he saw the man move his arm up like a white flag, Apollo aimed for it. He saw it bent and break, the elbow pop out. The driver retreated back inside. But there was no other exit, the front windshield, like the webbing it was broken into, caught him. He tried kicking it. Apollo heard the faint struggle of the broken man. He came up the car and let him try, almost taunting him. After a few minutes, he finally brought the whole car to the ground again. They both assessed the damage, the red car now compressed, the headlight dangling out like an eye falling out of its socket. A constant flicker, a hopeless flicker of the headlights. The driver looked at Apollo.

The same strobing light lapsed in his own eyes as he faced Apollo’s grim mask. He looked for his keyhole and turned it and begged the engine that no longer worked. It couldn’t roar, it couldn’t even purr. It coughed then went quiet.

“What the fuck, man. I thought - ” The driver spat blood. “I thought I ran you over, man.”

“You must have me confused.” Apollo pulled him out of the car. “I am no man.”

“I’ll give you whatever you want.” The driver tugged Apollo’s arm the same way a child would at the father, pleading, in prayer. Apollo dragged him to the tree.

“I know you will.” Apollo said. The car was on fire and Apollo was brought back to that night. He grabbed the drivers twisted arm and turned it even more. He could see the skin in the light and how it turned green, diseased. The driver did not scream though. It was a silent expression that emptied out of his mouth, his mouth was open, his eyes rolled back. It was the point in which he was wishing for death.

“You will live tonight. I promise you that.” Apollo said. “How you will live afterward, however, will be your own decision. Yours alone.” The fires fanned in his eyes. The child, for all Apollo felt and thought, was here, bleeding again. And the heat of passion now drove him more than he would admit. 

“I want a name.” Apollo said.

“Anyone! I’ll tell you anyone.” The man said. His stray teeth stained his purple blazer, his watch hung on his broken hand and with tears, he moved himself to offer the watch. Apollo stood still. The driver looked in his pockets and when his eyes and hands came up with the burning money, when he saw the face of death, he knew the gravitas of Apollo’s wrath. That impassive, silent rage. 

“Every drug on the streets of Havenbrook have seen your hands or passed your inspection. You have every route, every small-time dealer and big-time drug trafficker in your phone book.” Apollo said.

“Who? Who do you want?” The man cried.

“I want neither. Not your constituents, not your employees. I want the man you sell your hallucinogens too. This man. This man alone will suffice.”

“I have so many who buy them.” The edge of barter was in the driver’s tone now. 

"Give me your largest consumner." Apollo said.

The man bit his lips. He shut his eyes, in pain or in the imagination of a pain. 

“Promise me, at least.” The driver said.

Apollo reached for him, he dug his hands into bruised skin, cut through the purple blazer and the black dress shirt. His fingers wrapped around a gold chain, then they went deeper, into the ribs. He had not penetrated the skin, only barely, instead he found one of those long curbed bones and, with dispassionate glare, broke it. Crack. Apollo put his arms to cover the driver's mouth. He felt his fingers bit.

He detached himself from the man again and let him scramble to the wound.

“You are the polluter of this temple. You are the beast, the whore, and the money-changer all at once. You will not be forgiven, but you may yet find another life after today.” Apollo said. “Silence suffers you. A name? A name buys you a future.”

“Alestor.” He shouted. “Doctor Alestor. He always used an assistant with his deals. But…”

“But?” The fire roared.

“I spied on him. I tracked him, he’s into freaky shit man. He wanted to kill me once he found out I tailed him, he would have. But I promised him to keep selling. To shut the fuck. To help him.” The world muted. Apollo heard the words and he felt, immediately, like drowning. Like he sank to the bottom of the ocean and all the stress and pressure collapsed on his ears. The muffled, rock bottom silence, the drowning silence of the ocean above him. He helped, Apollo thought.

”Man, you got to keep me same from him. Fucking shit, man. Do me that at least? He does things, things you wouldn’t believe. It’s fucking magic. I swear, no one believes m-” The driver reached for Apollo’s legs to plead. Apollo picked him up. He slammed him against the tree.

“You will survive tonight. I promise. It is not my place to execute a man.” He said. The driver cried, thanked him, his nose dripped. Apollo let him go and let him weep for a moment of innocent joy.

Then he took off his jacket. Then he lifted his sleeves and showed the veins of his arms, the rivers of violent passion that now pulsed through him and through his heart.

“But I will judge,” Apollo said. The man went quiet. The fire crackled. “You deserve no tribunal, you will get no tribunal. No. This is no righteous beating.”

The driver looked side to side. He almost forgot his legs were broken.

“I look upon you the same way a farmer would look at the harvest or a shepherd, his livestock. Because this, like any other bounty or burden, is just a chore.”

He looked at Apollo and the way he leaned in with that gaunt and gaudy mask. His mouth quivered and he took a deep breath. He would need it, for his crying howl into the night.
 

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